My mom’s spice cabinets have recently become hazardous: besides the outdated, potentially lethal items it contains, she told me about reaching for pepper last week and having bottles spill out and nearly hit her. Too, things get lost: last week, she couldn’t find vanilla, so she ran off to United. This morning I found two vanillas buried far back, so now she has three. This is how her spice cabinet looked BEFORE–please note that the tall bottle on the first shelf, to the right of the divider, props up the sagging second shelf:
When she got home from running an errand and found the above shelves empty, their contents across the counter, she screamed so loudly her husband Bill came in and said he thought someone was being murdered. My mom said she couldn’t do it without me, however, so I persevered.
“This is an intervention,” I said. “I know. That’s what it looks like!” She shared a Schlotzky’s sandwich with Bill at the table and eyed me suspiciously. I filled up a brown paper sack with ancient crusty bottles of seasoned salt and steak rub, ketchup and salt and pepper packets, and sour-smelling salad dressing and barbeque sauces (which technically should be refrigerated, though my mother will argue the point even when faced with the bottle’s instructions.) “This is trash, Mom. You have the right to look. Do you want look at things first before I throw them away?”
“No, I don’t want to,” she said and went back to her sandwich. She owned two or three of many items, such as dried cilantro, oregano, chili powder, beau monde seasoning, powdered ginger, and dill weed. I set aside the repeats, knowing how much she enjoys combining things, how much it means to her to accomplish the semblance of efficiency amidst chaos.
Soon she came over and joined in. She was brave and fearless, even tossing items I was on the fence about. I haven’t known her to believe in expiration dates–often I will read off an expired date and she dismisses the date, claiming, “it’s still good,” but today she stopped at nothing.
At the end there were several bottles she wanted to offer her housekeeper Priscilla. Knowing their age, I asked, “Maybe we should have Priscilla sign a waiver?” I thought she might punch me, but instead she laughed and leaned her head on my shoulder.
Afterward she thanked me and said, “Your initiative has bolstered my courage.” Now she’ll be able to find things: